Looker Studio Calculated Field : A complete overview

Looker Studio Calculated Field : A complete overview

n the ever-evolving digital landscape, businesses need to transform complex raw data into actionable insights to drive informed decisions. One of the most powerful tools for this transformation is 'Calculated Fields' provided by Looker Studio. This comprehensive guide will help you understand calculated fields, their potential applications, and how to leverage their power to turn your raw data into insightful, visually appealing metrics, and ultimately enhance your decision-making process.

What are Calculated Fields used for?

Calculated fields are formulas that perform actions on one or multiple fields in a data source. They allow you to apply calculations and other functions to your data to create new metrics and dimensions. Functions are also often used to generate new data points. You can calculate conversion rates between two metrics, analyze funnel drop-off rates, clean URLs, and group similar content together. They are the secret sauce that can turn your raw data into insightful, actionable information.

For example, you could use a calculated field to:

- Calculate conversion rate by dividing conversions by visits
- Determine revenue per visit by dividing revenue by visits
- Extract the month from a date field
- Concatenate first and last name into a full name field

The resulting calculated field can then be used to visualize and analyze the derived metric in Looker Studio reports and dashboards. Formulas inside calculated fields allow you to mold your data source to provide the exact insights you need. They empower you to ask deeper questions of your data and get to the heart of key business questions.

Why should I use Calculated Fields?

Calculated fields are an invaluable tool when you want to present data that isn't readily available in your source dataset. They can make your data prettier, more insightful, and more actionable. They can also be used in any chart type, enhancing your data visualization capabilities. With calculated fields, you can create custom metrics that are tailored to your specific needs, allowing you to extract more value from your data.

Here are some of the key reasons calculated fields should be an essential part of your Looker Studio data analysis process:

  • Derive new metrics not available in the raw data : Calculated fields let you generate key metrics and dimensions that are not already present in the source data. For example, you may want to calculate conversion rate, average revenue per user, churn rate or any other custom metric relevant to your business goals.
  • Flexibly transform existing fields for analysis : You can use calculated fields to transform existing dimensions in new ways for deeper analysis. For example, extracting the month or year from a date field to analyze trends over time.
  • Blend data from multiple sources : Calculated fields allow you to blend data from different sources into unified metrics. You can connect insights from your CRM, web analytics, financial data, and more.
  • Create comparative metrics for deeper analysis : With calculated fields, you can easily create metrics to compare segments of a dataset for deeper analysis. For example, you could compare conversion rate between different customer segments.
  • Enrich geographic data for visualization : Combine geographic data with other metrics using calculated fields to create powerful location-based analysis and maps. This very insightful feature is a must for any business dashboard.
  • Manipulate text strings and data formats : Clean up inconsistent formats, extract parts of text strings, convert data types and more with text and date functions. Garbage in, garbage out. The accuracy of your data storytelling depends heavily on the quality and relevance of the data it is sitting on.

Calculated fields enable you to mold raw data into exactly the metrics and dimensions needed to drive key business decisions. They are the engine that transforms Looker Studio from a simple reporting tool into an advanced data analysis platform.

Let’s create your First Calculated Field

Creating a calculated field in Looker Studio is a very straightforward process. Just as to take full advantage of the capabilities of computer tools, you need to be well organized before jumping on your keyboard and mouse. Here's how you can do it:

Plan Your Calculated Field
First, identify the KPIs that aren't directly available in a single data source. Define which data sources, dimensions, metrics, and functions you'll need to create those. This step is crucial because it helps you understand what you want to achieve with your calculated field and how to go about it.

Add a New Field to Your Data Source / Chart
Decide whether to create a Data Source or Chart Level Calculated Field. Data source calculated fields are added to the data source and can be reused in other charts and reports. Chart level calculated fields can only be used on one particular chart but work on blended data. This flexibility allows you to create calculated fields that are as broad or as specific as you need them to be.

Enter Your Function
In the formula field, define how your existing dimensions or metrics should be manipulated. For your first calculated field, stick to the basics and just do a simple arithmetic calculation between metrics. This could be as simple as adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing two metrics. As you get more comfortable with calculated fields, you can start using more complex functions.

Apply the New Field to Your Visualization
Click Save to apply the new field to a chart. Your newly created custom field will appear alongside the standard metrics and dimensions of the data source and can be added in the same way. This allows you to seamlessly integrate your calculated fields into your existing data visualizations.

Looker Studio Functions

Looker Studio functions are formulas that can be used in calculated fields to manipulate and combine existing fields in more advanced and complex ways than basic arithmetics allow. They are classified into six categories: Aggregation, Arithmetic, Date, Geo, Text, and Miscellaneous. Each category contains a variety of functions that you can use to manipulate your data in different ways.

These function types are :

- The Aggregation functions. These allow you to easily calculate sums, averages, minimums, maximums and more. For example, using SUM() to get total revenue over a period of time.
- The Arithmetic functions are additional math functions like ABS(), MOD(), ROUND() to manipulate numeric values.
- The Date category contains functions that allow you to extract or manipulate date and time values. Extract and reformat dates with YEAR(), MONTH(), DATETRUNC(). Analyze time series data.
- The Geo category contains functions that allow you to work with geographical data. Leverage geographic data with functions like REGION(), NEAR(), and RELATIVE_LATITUDE().
- The Text category contains functions that allow you to manipulate text strings. Modify text values using LOWER(), UPPER(), LEN(), CONCAT() and more.
- The Miscellaneous category contains a variety of other useful functions. An exhaustive list of functions can be found in the Looker Studio documentation.

Real-life use cases are numerous

Looker Studio is such a versatile tool that it easily adapts to any use case that companies encounter on a daily basis. Here are just a few examples:

Custom Conversion Rate
Standard metrics sometimes don't provide the required insights, and you need to look for alternatives. For example, when comparing two ad variants of a display campaign, the KPI Conversion Per Impression (CPI) might be more insightful. This metric isn't readily available in most data sources, but you can easily calculate it using a calculated field. This can be done simply by dividing the number of conversions by the number of impressions. You can then get a more accurate and relevant measure of the effectiveness of your ads.

Mobile Traffic Share Development Comparison Between Countries
The ability to compare segments with only one Looker Studio chart is possible through a conjunction of calculated fields and blended data. You might want to compare the share of mobile traffic between different countries over time. Just create a calculated field that divides the number of mobile visits by the total number of visits for each country. Plotting this calculated field over time help you clearly see how the share of mobile traffic has evolved in each country.

Funnel Drop-Off Rate Calculation
Calculated fields can be used to calculate the conversion drop-off rate for all your funnel steps, providing valuable insights into your conversion process. You might want to know what percentage of users drop off at each step of your conversion funnel. This can be done by creating a calculated field that divides the number of users who reach each step by the number of users who reached the previous step.

Cleaning URLs
Inconsistent URLs in a report can cause users to doubt your conclusions. Cleaning your URLs with calculated fields is a simple exercise that can greatly improve the clarity and accuracy of your reports. For example, you might have URLs that include tracking parameters or session IDs, which make them look messy and hard to read. You can use a calculated field to remove these parameters and create clean, readable URLs.

Grouping Content
Grouping content with the help of calculated fields in Looker Studio gives you those insights also in retrospect. For example, you might have a blog with hundreds of posts, and you want to analyze the performance of these posts based on their categories. If your data source doesn't include a category field, you can create one using a calculated field. By extracting the category from the URL or the post title, you can group your posts into categories and analyze their performance.

Optimizing Performance of Looker Studio Calculated Fields

With some performance tuning, you can build Looker Studio dashboards that leverage complex calculated fields while maintaining speed. When dealing with large volumes of data, complex calculated fields can impact performance. Here are some tips to optimize your formulas :

  • Simplify formulas: Avoid unneeded nesting and complexity.
  • Limit filters: Adding many filters to a complex calculation may slow things down.
  • Granularize large formulas: Break into smaller reusable calculated fields.

By following these simple guidelines, Looker Studio enables you to create complex visualizations that are easy to understand and display quickly. This is an important condition for maintaining attention levels and winning the appreciation of your users.

Presenting Data Insights from Calculated Fields

The true test of an impactful calculated field is how clearly it communicates data insights. Follow these best practices for presenting calculated fields:

  • Use clear, descriptive names for your metrics.
  • Set appropriate number formatting and units.
  • Label charts and visuals clearly.
  • Show trends and comparisons.
  • Keep it simple and focused.
  • Tell a story with your data narrative.

Remember that the raison d'être of a powerful tool like Looker Studio is to quickly deliver clear, precise points of view in a visual way. The mere display of numbers can confuse users and slow down their decision-making. Well-designed dashboards allow your newly created metrics to shine and drive informed decisions.

Key Takeaways

Calculated fields can be an essential part of facilitating data-driven decision-making. They are the key to unlocking transformative data analysis in Looker Studio (formerly known as Google Studio). They let you derive powerful new metrics, blend data sources, reveal trends and comparisons. With formulas you can visualize data tailored to all kinds of professional analytical needs.

Looker Studio functions empowers you to construct advanced formulas that can answer your most challenging questions. You can optimize performance of your dashboards that engage your users with clarity. Formulas give the ability to flexibly transform raw data into insightful metrics. That is what sets Looker Studio apart as an analytics platform. By becoming an expert at building calculated fields, you will be empowered to continually improve your decision-making applications with data-driven intelligence.

In the world of data analytics, calculated fields are an indispensable tool for transforming raw data into actionable insights. With Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio), calculated fields allow you to derive new metrics and dimensions from your data sources to gain a deeper understanding of performance. This comprehensive guide will take you through everything you need to know to leverage the power of calculated fields for insightful data visualization.

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